Misconceptions of Salt Water Generators

By Stephen Otto

Teddy Bear Pools & Spas main goal is to have happy and educated customers. Therefore, we feel it is our responsibility to give you the information you need about Pool Sanitizing Systems. Most systems work when they are properly maintained and the water is properly balanced. This article is mainly about Salt Generators and the incorrect information or misconceptions about this system. The most common misconceptions center around the chemical content of the pool water, the cost effectiveness of the systems, and their impact on the warranties of other equipment.

Chemical Content

Saltwater generators DO NOT create chlorine free pools. Sodium chloride (salt) in the water is converted into Hypochlorous acid (chlorine). Hypochlorous acid is the active sanitizer, the agent which kills algae and other harmful stuff in the water, created by all forms of chlorine.  The salt generator’s main function is to produce chlorine for the pool so the pool owner does not have to store or handle it.

When using a salt generator, you must still maintain correct water balance in your pool. Traditional Chlorine works even if your pool water is out of balance unlike salt generators. Salt generators create un-stabilized chlorine, so ideally, Salt water pools will have 24/7 circulation, a pH from 7.4 to 7.6, alkalinity from 80-120 ppm, and calcium from 200 to 400 ppm. This will help to protect the surface of the pool, and the pool equipment.  These levels are very similar to levels required by traditional chlorine use, with the exception of filtration time. A traditional chlorine pool should be circulated 8 – 10 hours per day.

Cost Effectiveness

Salt generators rarely pay for themselves. Calculations must include the cost of the actual generator, installation of the unit, installation of the extra electrical outlet required, replacement cells, cost of 24/7 circulation, and the rising price of pool salt.  Salt generators typically retail for a minimum $1,500.00, and can cost up to several thousand dollars, for a quality unit. Replacement cells currently retail for around $600 to $1,000, and should be replaced every 5 years.

Equipment Warranties

We have begun to see the following on many pool products: 

“USE of a salt generator with this product will VOID its warranty.”

Some pool installers have gone so far as to require their customers to sign disclaimers relieving the installer of any liability for faulty equipment or ruined finishes due to salt generators.

Ultimately, no sanitizing system is maintenance free.  Regardless of what sanitizers a pool owner chooses, they should be well informed of the ways it affects their pool and equipment, this will ensure many years of swimming enjoyment. We will be happy to answer any questions you have to help you decide what system is best for you and your pool.